Luc was feeling a little fresh during my bareback ride.

Luc was feeling a little fresh during my bareback ride.

You may be wondering a bit about the title of this week’s ride. Well, it’s in honour of my sister Jen, who just happens to be Luc’s owner. But let me back up a bit and provide just a little more context. This weekend it was cold. Darn cold. So cold that I thought that one, I’d go for a short ride, and two, that I’d ride bareback so I could capitalize on Luc’s body heat. The thing is, Jen warned me that might not be the best idea.

Luc had recently had a visit from the chiropractor, and was feeling pretty good about it. Coupling that with the crispness in the air and Jen was thinking Luc was going to be happy, happy, happy. She may have been right, and I may have needed to listen to her.

After tacking Luc up, I walked him into the arena and began walking him around the ring before getting on. It’s a new habit I’ve gotten into in the hopes of getting Luc’s back warmed up a bit before I get on, and as an added bonus it lets me get a bit of a gage on how amped up he’s likely to be about trigger issues like the big scary door.

Surprisingly, the walk went decently well. A few little balks at the big door, but nothing serious, so I walked back down to the mounting block and prepared to get on. I rubbed Luc’s back down, laid over him for a minute just to give him an idea of what was coming and just as I was about to attempt to get on his head came up, his whole body, tensed, and he went all bugged-eyed. Someone was driving up the driveway and the dogs were barking like crazy. Luc hates it when the dogs are running around and he can’t see them.

I spent the next few minutes trying to get his brain focused on me again. When I finally managed that I hopped on and hoped for the best. I may have miscalculated how hard it is to get on bareback when wearing multiple extra layers. It took me a little longer than normal to struggle into a sitting position. Thankfully, Luc had already fixated on the big scary door again so I had time to get it all sorted out. Then I went to ask Luc to walk forward, and within seconds knew I perhaps should have listened to Jen and put a saddle on.

Luc was more forward than I’ve seen him in a very long time. I opted to stay on a circle away from the big scary door, as I do have some measure of self-preservation. After a few laps around he had relaxed at least a little. I picked up the trot and got a highly animated version of it – only we were going more up than forward. Pushing him forward, I got the first sign I was in for a bumpy ride. Luc started tossing his head and humping his back. Oh no!

I actually brought him back to a walk and looked at Jen, asking if I should be getting the saddle since it seemed Luc just wanted to play. Since bucking isn’t normally in his repertoire, I was fairly certain that wasn’t in my future, but wasn’t sure my seat was strong enough to stay on during his antics.

Jen advised I get the saddle. My pride made me do otherwise. I decided to tough it out and keep my fingers crossed I didn’t end up in the dirt. I made Luc go back to work. After pushing him to trot a little more, I actually made some progress. We were forward and round and I was fairly secure in my seat. Then I moved on to the canter. More antics ensued. He was leaping into the canter, so much so that at one point I thought I might actually slide off him backwards! Then he would give me his best imitation of a fancy dressage horse and canter on the spot. Not at all comfortable to ride!

When I gave him a boot to go forward, the head shaking and back humping escalated, but I rode him through it and prevailed (barely!).

So in the end, my ride would have been a whole lot easier if I had just listened to Jen when she had warned me what I was in for. Next week, maybe I’ll listen to her – then again, probably not! In spite of Luc’s antics, I was actually pretty pleased with the ride. I managed to stay on and felt secure doing it. I’m calling that a win!